News Roundup for July 20, 2020

July 20, 2020

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J Street works to promote an open, honest and rigorous conversation about Israel. The opinions reflected in articles posted in the News Roundup do not necessarily reflect J Street’s positions, and their posting does not constitute an endorsement from J Street.

J Street in the News

The Israel-Palestine Debate Is Expanding—but the Options Are Only Shrinking, Slate
“Jeremy Ben-Ami, director of the center-left ‘pro-Israel, pro-peace’ lobbying group J Street, told me by email, ‘ ‘one state’ is not a solution, it’s the problem. The idea of a democratic state with equal rights for all between the Jordan and the Mediterranean may well have appeal in academic and intellectual circles as an abstract idea worthy of discussion. But in our view as a real-world solution it’s just about the only thing convincingly less likely than reaching a negotiated agreement to end the conflict by drawing a border that results in two viable, independent states.’”

Jewish organizations mourn passing of Representative John Lewis, The Jerusalem Post
“Jewish organizations and activists mourned the passing of Rep. John Lewis […] The progressive group J Street tweeted: ‘We are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend Congressman John Lewis. History will rightly record his tireless pursuit of justice, his bravery, his statesmanship and his unending selflessness and kindness.’”

J Street Mourns the Loss of Our Friend Congressman John Lewis, J Street
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend Congressman John Lewis. History will rightly record his tireless pursuit of justice, his bravery, his statesmanship and his unending selflessness and kindness. We are grateful for the wisdom he shared, the inspiration he provided and the example he set. Our country has yet to fully comprehend the wrongs that Lewis set out to right — nor the magnitude of the gift he gave us by doing so. May his memory be a blessing.”

Top News and Analysis

Iran executes man convicted of spying on US-slain general, AP
Iran executed a man convicted of providing information to the United States and Israel about a prominent Revolutionary Guard general later killed by a U.S. drone strike, state TV reported on Monday. The report said the death sentence was carried out against Mahmoud Mousavi Majd, without elaborating.

In Colombia, It Took Courage to Make Peace. I Worry Israel Is Choosing Conflict, Instead, Haaretz
Juan Manuel Santos writes, “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has scarred the Middle East for over 70 years. My country, Colombia, endured a similarly long-running and bitter conflict, seen as intractable and self-perpetuating. The path to peace took courage and magnanimity. As a friend of Israel, I am deeply concerned that these values are wholly absent from its government’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank. When I was President of Colombia, Hugo Chávez of Venezuela called my country ‘the Israel of Latin America.’ I took this as a compliment! There is much to admire in Israeli resilience, entrepreneurship and technological innovation.”

The JCPOA at 5: How the U.S. squandered an unprecedented diplomatic opening with Iran, Responsible Statecraft
Mahsa Rouhi writes, “Tehran was filled with hope and great optimism in the months after the Iran nuclear deal was signed. Many Iranians hoped for a new era in which sanctions would end, and with them the decades of hostility with the United States. There was a great sense of optimism for a new beginning, a bright future with reintegration in the international community, economic prosperity, booming tourism, student exchanges, and even direct flights between New York and Tehran. Many believed that domestic political reform would follow. That optimism is a distant memory today, two years and two months after President Trump unilaterally pulled out of the deal and re-imposed crushing sanctions.”


Government said to weigh weeknight lockdowns as cases pass 50,000, Times of Israel
Senior government officials on Sunday were reportedly weighing imposing weeknight lockdowns in addition to the ones planned for weekends, amid concerns that young Israelis will resort to gathering at public parks and squares, as a result of the shuttering of restaurants, bars and cafes. The news came as Israel’s case count passed 50,000, standing at 50,289 Sunday night, with 28,205 of them active, and serious cases reached 252, of which 70 were on ventilators. The Health Ministry said 1,438 had been diagnosed in the past 24 hours.

Netanyahu will have to face witnesses in corruption trial, but not until at least January 2021, JTA
Jerusalem District Court Judge Rivka Friedman-Feldman ruled that the trial will resume in January 2021, at which point hearings will take place three times a week. Netanyahu, who was not present Sunday, will have to attend hearings where witnesses testify, Ynet reported.

Netanyahu said to consider Mossad chief to head up national virus response, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly considering offering Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen the job of leading the national response to the coronavirus pandemic — the latest of several officials said to be considered.

News outlets covering Israel found, again, to have run ‘deepfake’ op-eds, JTA
Publications including Israel National News, The Jerusalem Post, The Algemeiner and the Times of Israel published pieces by a writer identified as Oliver Taylor, who does not appear to exist, according to a Reuters report this week.

IDF arrests 3 Palestinians said planning to attack West Bank settlement, Times of Israel
Israeli soldiers arrested three Palestinians in the Jalazone refugee camp, north of Ramallah, who were planning to carry out a terror attack on a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, the army said Saturday.

Iran’s Khamenei nips Rouhani impeachment in the bud, Al-Monitor
Iranian lawmakers behind a motion to impeach President Hassan Rouhani immediately backpedaled on their bid after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei publicly opposed it.

Hamas bars 2 Saudi-owned networks from Gaza for reports on alleged spies, Times of Israel
The Islamist terror group Hamas has blocked two Saudi-owned news networks, Al-Arabiya and Al-Hadath, from operating in the Gaza Strip over allegations of false reporting, multiple sources said Thursday.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu’s secret war against Iran is enabled by Trump — but it has Biden in mind, Washington Post
Jackson Diehl writes, “So far, the regime of Ali Khamenei, which is struggling with multiple crises, has played down the attacks, attributing some of them to gas leaks or other accidents. But if it chooses to respond, its targets could include U.S. bases in Iraq or shipping in the Persian Gulf, both of which it has already struck in the past year. A successful Iranian counterattack could force Trump into a military conflict ahead of the election, something that would be as likely to harm as help his apparently diminishing chances”

Mike Pompeo, Enemy of American Values, Haaretz
David Rothkopf writes, “As the Trump administration deploys unmarked police on the streets of Portland, its Secretary of State, eyeing a presidential run in 2024, gave a ‘pro-human rights’ speech that was actually a defense of the violation of human rights.”

How Netanyahu lost focus, and his coalition lost control, in fight against COVID, Times of Israel
Haviv Rettig Gur writes, “Where the government should have spent those hard-won weeks of a ‘flattened curve’ building out an epidemiological ‘tweezers’ capability — the ability to mass-test the population, pluck infected individuals out of the general population and into isolation, and allow the general economy to remain open without repeated waves of shutdowns – Netanyahu instead was focused elsewhere.”

Netanyahu Losing His Grip as Coronavirus Tremors Rattle Israel, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “The resurgent pandemic, economic crisis and mounting protests erode support for an increasingly hysterical prime minister.”